Because I Could Not Stop for Death
Emily Dickinson
1886

A later poem of Emily Dickinson, and one of the most best-known American poems of all time, “Because I Could Not Stop for Death” reflects upon the approaching end of life with calm acceptance, a peace with the recognition that the passage is less an ending than a beginning. Written in the year of her death and published posthumously in 1890, the poems famous opening stanza is followed by a straightforward imagining of her carriage-ride with death past the moments of her life, past the grave and to forever.

Hardly-known as a poet in her own lifetime, Dickinson was recognized more for her gardening, her extensive seclusion, and her virtually-exclusive wearing of white for a good many years. Less than a dozen of her nearly-1800 poems were published while she lived, and for decades afterwards she was often thought of as a mediocre voice if she was considered at all. The 1920s and 1930s, however, saw considerably-more attention paid to Emily Dickinson’s work, and she was increasingly-recognized as one of the great modern poets to emerge from the United States.

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